Top Trade Ministry Official Held in Port Dwell Time Graft Case
[Updated at 2:44 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, to add comment from Kadin official]
Jakarta. A senior Trade Ministry official who is a suspect in the dwell time corruption case police are investigating at the nation’s No. 1 shipping port, has been placed under arrest to make sure he doesn’t escape justice.
Partogi Pangaribuan, the Trade Ministry’s non-active director general of overseas trading, was arrested late on Friday night, said Sr. Comr. Mujiyono, the head of the Jakarta Police’s criminal investigation division.
“The reason for the arrest is that we worry he could run, or that if he isn’t held, he’ll make evidence disappear,” the chief detective said, adding that he was confident police had enough enough evidence against Partogi.
Mujiyono said a total of four people have thus far been named suspects in the case, of whom three are being held and one, identified as I.M., was not in Indonesia but would be arrested as soon as possible.
“Investigators are trying to catch him,” the officer said of I.M.
Earlier this week, $42,000 in cash was found inside a desk in Partogi’s office during a search. The cash is believed to be bribe money linked to the pre-customs clearance process at Indonesia’s largest shipping port, Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta.
Partogi has been suspended from active duty following the discovery of the cash on Tuesday.
Police believe Partogi is guilty of four counts of corruption and three counts of money laundering. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The chief of Jakarta Police, Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, has said police were tracking down the source of the allegedly illicit cash, adding that officials from other agencies linked to the dwell time process — the amount of time a container spends at the port before moving on — at Tanjung Priok port would also face questioning.
“Dwelling time involves three processes: pre-customs clearance, customs and post customs clearance. We are focusing on the pre-clearance process first,” Tito said. “The pre-clearance process is very important because it is connected with how long imported goods should dwell at the port. Which is why we are targeting the Trade Ministry first.”
It is not clear what the suspected bribe money was for or where it originated, but the long dwell times at the port have come under scrutiny since an enraged President Joko Widodo noted that Tanjung Priok’s dwell time was an average of 5.5 days — the longest in Asia.
Joko threatened to fire officials unless the port’s dwell time was shortened to at most 4.7 days. Currenlty, a container on average spends 3.6 days during the pre-customs clearance process.
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), on Saturday urged police to investigate all ministries that play a role in the management of Tanjung Priok Port.
“Everybody who was involved [in criminal activities] has to face the law,” said Ade Sudrajat, who heads Kadin’s committee for textile and shoes.
Ade said Kadin has long been complaining about extortion at the port.
“We often suffer losses,” he said, explaining that the harbor is one of the main drivers of the Indonesian economy and that the whole country suffers if it is run by thieves. “We are very grateful to the Jakarta Police [for launching their investigation]. But we hope that they drag down everybody involved.”
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